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The YEP MED training was carried out largely online using the Google Meet platform

148 students join the first YEP MED fully digital international training in Barcelona, Tunis, Civitavecchia and Beirut

The YEP MED training programme based on simulated enterprises allowed students to practice international trade operations using a real-life Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platform

The first fully digital international training of the YEP MED (Youth Employment in the Ports of the MEDiterranean) project kicked-off last week in four different port communities: Barcelona, Tunis, Civitavecchia and Beirut. The training course finished on the 31st of May 2021. Each port community was responsible for bringing to life a simulated freight forwarding operator and execute international trade operations between the participating countries.

Thanks to the digital tools, a total of 148 students from the four port communities took part in this unique course. The global coordination and organisation of the project was overseen by the Escola Europea, lead partner of the project, whilst local project partners gave national level support. At the international level, participants could interact with students from other Mediterranean countries and support each other in the export operations they need to design, plan and manage as part of the training. Alongside having a widely international character, the student group also featured a high proportion of women in its midst – who formed around 41% of all participants. Making it easier for women to access employment in the Mediterranean transport sector is one of the key bastions of the YEP MED initiative.

This course was the first of the series of the 2nd stage of the YEP MED training. The first stage comprised vocational training (VT) courses that offered an introduction to port logistics and operations. This second stage gives the students an opportunity to gain practical experience and to gain a global understanding of the port-logistic operations first-hand through the use of a newly designed virtual platform that replicates a real port community in the virtual sphere. The students need to work together to design and prepare transport operations that freight forwarders regularly carry out by accessing the Port Virtual Lab. This virtual reality created by the Escola Europea allows students to interact with different companies that are involved in the process of an import / export operation: shippers of several industries as real-life substitute customers (Play Fine Fruits, Play Fine Clothing, Play Fine Cars, Play Fine Pharma, Play Machine Tools, and Play Chemicals), transport operators such as a shipping line, a rail operator or a haulier company (SDG Lines, Port Railway, Play Haulier), customs related entities such as customs brokers and customs administrations (Play Customs Agent and Play Smart Customs) and a Port Community System (MedTrade). You can find out more about these theoretical companies by going to the Port Virtual Lab site.

The Simulated Practice Enterprise is a methodological didactic strategy of “Learning by Doing” – through a digital lens. With the ERP system provided by Click & Cargo, the Escola Europea and its partners have worked to develop a digital environment that promotes simultaneous and integrated development of functional competencies of organisational management (social, human and business) based on a methodological-didactic simulation system that allows for contextualized and experiential knowledge. At the same time, the Click & Cargo system contributes to the vocational guidance of students and the employability of graduates through the creation of role-playing assessments and specific tasks representative of the world of work.

“From the point of view of knowledge to be transferred to the students, the training succeeded in achieving the objectives for which it was developed. The content of the sessions is very satisfactory insofar as it offers very varied technical knowledge to be able to use the Click and Cargo. Technical knowledge well founded by theoretical knowledge in international maritime trade techniques. On the educational level, the succession of sessions has been well studied ensuring the progression of the knowledge produced.” – Mr Anis Romdhani, lecturer from Tunis

An additional benefit of the YEP MED training courses is the unique benefit gleamed from the international community of teachers. Thanks to the collaboration of more than 30 teachers from Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) centres and professionals of the sector, the students were presented with a distinctively multicultural and very experienced teaching staff – which further added to the authenticity of the heterogenous Mediterranean training.

“In these two weeks, I had the opportunity to meet students from Beirut, Ortona, Barcelona and Tunis. We have learned how import and export shipping works through the Click&Cargo ERP platform. We have learned and increased our knowledge in the logistics sector with the collaboration of professionals who explained the different procedures and aspects. I found it very useful and interesting for the students who want to continue their career in the sector”. – Flavia di Capua, student from ITS Caboto (Italy)

These YEP MED VT2 and VT3 digital international training courses will take place over the early summer months, concluding before the autumn months and paving the way for the next stage of the training model – the integration of the successful participants in local companies through apprenticeships that will complete the dual training model.

For more information about the YEP MED project you can contact Concha Palacios from the project office at concha.palacios@portdebarcelona.cat or head to the website.

The panel at the press conference

The Escola Europea and Click&Cargo develop a virtual port to be used in simulation exercises

In the framework of the European YEP MED project, the agreement between the Escola Europea and the software development company Click&Cargo has been presented to the public on the 26th of May 2021.

Logos of the entities involved in the project

Participating in the event from the Escola Europea were its director Eduard Rodés and its Chief Business Officer Marta Miquel. The Project Manager from Click & Cargo, Valentina Salinas and the head of development Alex Rodriguez, alongside Marisa Clavero – a teacher from the Institut Lluïsa Cura, and Guillem Sardañés, CEO of the freight forwarding company eGlobe, also joined the press conference to explain the details of the agreement.

Eduard Rodés presented the YEP MED project and the PortVirtualLab.com platform, which will be used for the development of the training applications foreseen in the European project. YEP MED, funded by the ENI CBC Med programme, has a budget of 2.97 million euros and a planned duration of 30 months.

One of the main characteristics of the development of the project has been the close and fruitful collaboration of different organisations in the Barcelona Port Logistics Community, including: the Barcelona Port Authority, ATEIA, Institut Les Salines, Institut Lluïsa Cura, Click&Cargo and various private companies in the sector such as eGlobe.

Marta Miquel of the Escola Europea has highlighted that the agreement has already enabled training in the use of the platform for trainers from institutes and training centres in the 7 participating countries from the project: Spain, France, Italy, Tunisia, Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon. A total of 38 teachers specialised in International Trade from 12 training centres have been prepared to deliver the practice sessions in their respective centres and countries in the coming months.

Since last week, some of these trainers have already begun putting into practice what they have learned in a course that is being conducted online. 148 trainees from Spain, Italy, Tunisia and Lebanon are currently simulating project operations in the first course of this kind for students.

Valentina Salinas emphasised that the use of Click&Cargo as an ERP platform for the freight forwarding sector was the result of a public tender in which it obtained the best score for its technical features and ease of use. The proposed platform is fully accessible online and in English, which eliminates the barriers of distance and language in a sector where English is the lingua franca. The platform aims to integrate digitalisation processes, facilitating and automating the usual tasks of freight forwarding companies.

The co-founder and director of eGlobe, Guillem Sardañés, highlighted the speed and efficiency of the training that students receive in a relatively short time – achieving the same results in just a few weeks -something that normally require months of training. Sardañés highlighted the rapid process of digitalisation of freight forwarding companies and the need to have personnel prepared to face the challenges and changes that these processes entail. He also affirmed that the similarity of real-life operations to the simulated ones is amazing and proposed that the tool could also serve professionals active in the sector as an aid in digital transitions.

On behalf of the training institutes Marisa Clavero emphasised that the YEP MED programme and the PortVirtualLab.com platform have made it possible to go to the most minute levels of details in operations for the first time, which in practice means a simulation of the activities carried out in all levels of a company. She further emphasised the value of the students’ relations with the teams from the other countries, who act as corresponding agents in their respective countries during the exercises. The management of these relations, with the added complexity of dealing with different cultures, different languages and different visions, is a very valuable experience for the profile of a worker in a freight forwarding company, who is also a citizen of the world by the nature of his or her work.

Eduard Rodés pointed out that contact with other software companies in the sector has already begun, with the goal to extend training to other groups from the Port Logistics Community in the coming years and that the Escola Europea will work to facilitate the digitisation processes of all the actors involved in operations.

For more information on the YEP MED project you can contact Concha Palacios from the project office at concha.palacios@portdebarcelona.cat.

Members of the Steering Committee of the Escola Europea

The Escola Europea-Intermodal Transport goes digital to enrich its training model

The Steering Committee of the training center, which met on Wednesday April 21st in Barcelona, has assessed the actions carried out last year and has defined the new strategy for 2021.

The Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport has set itself a clear goal for this year: to intensify digitalisation in order to enrich its training model with the advantages provided by new technologies. This priority objective was approved by the Steering Committee of the Escola in a meeting held this week in in Barcelona.

During 2020, to adapt to the new scenario created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Escola has adapted its structure to the new realities mandated by the health authorities and prepared a different approach for its activities. This path will continue in 2021, with the goal to enrich the courses and to take advantage of the flexibility provided by the new digitised training models.

During the meeting the President of the Escola Europea Mercè Conesa highlighted the enormous difficulties posed by the pandemic, the actions taken to adapt to the new situation and the uncertainties that still remain. Face-to-face training activities suffered a strong setback in 2020, forcing a reevaluation of all training actions.

Among the activities carried out by the Escola Europea during 2020 the start of the European project YEP MED doubtlessly stands out, in which the Port of Barcelona and the Port Authority of Civitavecchia also participate as partners, and which the Escola heads as Lead Partner. Also noteworthy was the inauguration of the Italian headquarters of the Escola Europea and the subsequent start of a new vocational training course in Civitavecchia – with the title of Integrated Logistics Technician – promoted by the Caboto Foundation, the Port Authority of Civitavecchia and the Escola itself, with a programme of 2,050 hours of training carried out over two academic years.

Looking at the Escola’s other activities, it was stressed that the Forma’t al Port courses in Barcelona, and their Italian counterpart the Formati al Porto courses in Civitavecchia, were carried out in a hybrid format, with the collaboration of schools and with very positive results.

Finally, it was pointed out that in 2020 a new project was approved which comprised the development of the PortVirtualLab.com platform, which will support training and simulation activities in logistics-port communities.

The Steering Committee was chaired by Mercè Conesa, President of the Port of Barcelona. Participating in the meeting were Pino Mussolino, new chairman of the Port System Authority of the Central Northern Tyrrhenian Sea; Emilio Signorini, president of the Port Authority of the Western Ligurian Sea; Matteo Catani, CEO of Grandi Navi Velocci, and Eduard Rodés, director of the Escola Europea. The meeting was also attended by the members of the Executive Committee: Catalina Grimalt, from the Port of Barcelona; Luca Lupi, from the Port of Civitavecchia; Silvio Ferrando, from the Port of Genoa; Antonio Pedevila and Andrea Balabani, of GNV, and Mario Massarotti, of the Grimaldi Group.

Innovation and Digitisation

Innovation and digitisation post Covid-19

As we enter a new era in the Escola’s development and begin to work on our new project YEPMED, which aims to ameliorate the labour situation for young people across the Mediterranean, we have caught up with Anwar Zibaoui to share his thoughts on the importance of collaboration and sharing of know how in the era of the 4th industrial revolution, and the digitisation and innovation that come with it. Check out the full article below. 

The YEPMED Project aims to better match the labour market skills needs and dual TVET offer in the Mediterranean Port communities sector in order to contribute to jobs creation and productive economic growth. 

 

Anwar Zibaoui

Anwar Zibaoui, chairman of ACASME and founder of AZ Meda Advisors & Consulting

Twelve years after the world financial crisis sent the economies of the developed and developing world into disarray, we are once again facing an unknown situation. An unprecedented tsunami that has confined millions of people to their homes, shaken the stock markets, forced countless businesses to close, including local markets and restaurants and emptied our streets, paralyzing our economies. Historical precedents tell us that such a situation could significantly alter political and economic systems, reconfigure ideas and theories, and impose radical changes to our lifestyles.

In this case, the unexpected allies have been innovation and digital technology, which helped alleviate the impact of COVID-19 on individuals, businesses and governments. In the midst of the chaos, a new era set in the digital world is emerging, and with it creating new opportunities. Nevertheless the benefits of technology are not equally distributed, as more than 3.6 billion people on the planet still do not have access to the Internet. In the informal economy, teleworking does not exist. For millions of children, access to online education is a remote dream.

It is time to coordinate our reaction to the new challenges, because innovation and digitalisation are here to stay. Their implementation has accelerated exponentially and there is no turning back now. It has changed the way we work, learn, buy or socialise. We must be prepared for the so-called new normality.

Never before has the digital agenda been as necessary and vital as it is now. It is not only an immediate response to the measures taken to combat the virus, but it is also indispensable to research and innovation. The current economic models are breathless because of the speed of change. We are in the era of globalisation, climate change, pandemics, digital transformation, the collaborative economy, urban concentration and the depopulation of the rural world. All of these represent many changes that governments all across the globe are struggling to regulate. However, these also highlight new divergences and polarizations between economies and societies. This is why new responses are needed.

There is no doubt that technological change threatens jobs, but it can also create alternatives. Relations at work, between companies, employees, services, mobility… are evolving. The only key to progress is to improve innovation and education. As in everything else, the future of Europe, Africa and the Mediterranean lies in adapting, sharing experiences and moving forward together.

Following the current model, Mediterranean governments are focusing on job creation rather than on business creation. This is an outdated model that consists of launching massive public employment programmes instead of financing and investing in successful businesses that create jobs. It is clear that economic progress is directly related to training, research and innovation activities, and that there is a correlation between social progress and business activities.

The life cycle of companies should demonstrate to many countries that the secret of eternal youth is constant innovation. Governments need to balance expenditures and invest in tangible infrastructure such as roads, railways or ports. However, they must also invest in intangibles such as education, research and development. R&D is the key driver for building and consolidating a knowledge economy and implementing a culture of creativity in which young people are inspired, transform their ideas, raise their ambitions and pursue their dreams.

Entrepreneurship and the private sector can drive adaptation to technology and innovation, be the vehicle to engage young people and move forward. We must promote a new mental framework, a new attitude, harnessing the energy of young people, and fresh ideas, because these are the ones that bring opportunities. Innovation is a lever for value creation because it transforms the way we do business and has a multiplier effect on the growth of a nation and its companies.

Innovation is the way to growth and survival. It is the model for the promotion of a company or a country. Technology is already here, but by itself it is not the answer. It is a facilitator and accelerator of new ways of being and doing. To be able to create wealth and ensure a future, innovation is not an option, it is a necessity.

The Mediterranean region will have to create hundreds of millions of new jobs over the next three decades. This challenge presents an opportunity for the region to transform its economies and harness the creativity of its large youth population and the disruptive power of technology to create wealth.

Whether we like it or not, production lines will require less and less manpower thanks to more efficient machines, automation and robotics. In addition, the next wave will bring more artificial intelligence, 3D printing and new capabilities that will make additional manual labour redundant. We already know that 8 out of 10 jobs will be lost due to new technologies (not immigration or globalization), that 64% of the jobs that exist today will be automated, and that 66% of the jobs for the next 10 years have not yet been invented.

The transition to the fourth industrial revolution, combined with a crisis of governance, makes it imperative to thoroughly reconsider human capital and adapt education to the labour market in order to achieve prosperity and stability. New digital technologies generate a new competitiveness that, for the moment, does not apply to many Mediterranean countries. For the region, a successful transition would guarantee business competitiveness and be a determining factor for regional industrial consolidation. Doing nothing is a risk of negative impact on its future growth and productivity.

In our region, the most immediate economic challenge is not diversification or new tax regimes, but the creation of productive and sustainable jobs for the youth. At the same time, we must be equipped with the combination of talents and skills that will make industry 4.0 a generator of wealth and social peace. We must be concerned about the level of training of the workforce and its quantitative and qualitative nature. The factors that today allow us to better evaluate it are the development of the digital culture, the skills and the capacity to think creatively.

The region has an enormous human capital waiting to be developed. Education, the promotion of the private sector and an understanding of this technological revolution will be key ingredients for success. This is a complex task that will require a broad social consensus and determined action by governments.

The digital potential is unlimited. This represents an opportunity for the Mediterranean. A large market with rapid growth. A hub of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship. Young people have the resources to find solutions to pressing problems.

Leaving the Mediterranean behind in the digital transformation is not an option. The pace of the fourth industrial revolution will wait for no one. As the United States and Asia move forward, Europe and the Mediterranean need to forge their own identity. Today the imbalance is obvious, and everything that prevents an improvement in innovative capacity is conditioning the future.

The main key to innovation is training. Companies that invest in their employees to provide them with the right knowledge are the ones that grow. Governments must do the same, improving qualifications and promoting innovation in all key sectors of the economy and in the education system. If they stop betting on the education of the new generations, they will condemn them to depend on others for life.

There is a great need for a new platform of collaboration that brings together governments with businesses and other actors interested in public-private cooperation in the Mediterranean, facilitating a progressive dialogue that understands and respects the values and culture of the region. Investment in young people is needed to unlock the demographic dividend in an area where the interests of governments, the private sector and international organizations are fully aligned. This requires joint action by all today, to ensure a prosperous region tomorrow.

This crisis will pass, but we must not forget that innovation and digitalisation are the path to survival and development, the fuel for constant progress and the model for the rise of a company, a nation or a region.

Article published in its original form can be found here.

IoT impact on Port Operations

The IoT (Internet of Things,) known as the ability to connect devices and objects through a digital network, is a term that has ceased to be new and has slowly become part of our daily routine. Nowadays devices connected to the IoT permeate our homes, with people relying on devices such as Roomba, smart refrigerators or Alexa. IoT’s capabilities are much more powerful and each of the sectors of our economies have taken advantage of the benefits of this technology operations and management.

When looking at the maritime industry, and ports in particular, we can see that the advantages of incorporating IoT into their operations for the interaction of M2M (machine to machine) in telematic devices and sensors has resulted in a positive impact. Shipping has recognised that the best strategy for the future is no longer to prioritise massive physical growth but rather to optimise flows and logistics processes. Given this need, the IoT provides the ability to manipulate, control and monitor actions – an important step (albeit not the only one) within the grander scheme of things.

Initially we saw the IoT utilised to optimise the mobilisation of containers in terminals, monitoring of the control of working hours and accesses, towards the activation of equipment, control of cranes or prediction of maintenance. All this could be summarised not only in information reports but also in future opportunities. Knowing the data is always beneficial but knowing what to do with it is much better and this is the real gain from the process. To correctly identify where the processes can be optimised is the most difficult job of the sensor data collection. To date no universal algorithm or formula exists, and each terminal, each product and each country has a different dynamic that must be evaluated and readapted to involve the complex analysis of experts who actually manage to identify the weak sections of the processes.

On the other hand, the IoT is common practice of digital ports even if this does not mean that everything is done digitally. Monitoring, control and data collection have become daily routines, but the prediction of many activities is the new leading characteristic that the IoT is taking. It entails predicting supply chain breaks, equipment failures and many other aspects that are associated with artificial intelligence.

The cons?

What are the downsides? The main concern is that such implementations may expose the ports and organisations relying on digital data collection to unauthorised external interventions or cyberattacks. Nevertheless, large companies have understood that it is part of the risks to be mitigated, and that without these strategies sooner rather than later companies that do not adopt them will lose competitiveness.

The future?

Information is becoming more and more valuable. At the same time, it is becoming more public and freely accessible. The IoT interconnects equipment to obtain information; this information then collaborates between companies to obtain benefits. The scope of the IoT has managed to expand to all those who indirectly interact with logistics or port activities. We have left behind the information gap that in the past was termed the “Maritime Adventure”, and today exporters need to have constant control of situations to optimise the supply chain.

From a direct link to the truck driver through an app interconnected with the port community system, to the most detailed environmental control system, the IoT has infinite contributions in the port activity. It can be customised to the needs of each actor and promises to have event higher levels of performance with the emergence of 5G (in the not-to-near future).

 “According to IDC (International Data Corporation), there are already nearly 200 billion computerised devices, with 20 billion of them wired and communicating via the Internet, and more than 50 billion sensors that track” around the world. The maritime sector, as the majority holder of international transport, has the responsibility to act efficiently and safely to reduce costs in a globalised market. This requires the optimisation of each of the shipping processes, and that in any case the IoT is a tool that allows to promote these objectives.

With the world constantly becoming “smaller”, and speed and accuracy becoming more important to customers and operators, there is hardly any doubt that the Internet of Things is the language of the future – and it is up to us to knows this language and to learn to decipher the information collected by it to improve the door-to-door supply chain, and the operations in the ports in particular.

For more information, check out these articles:

 

Written by:

  • Vanessa Bexiga, Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport

Developing sustainable Intermodal Transport Networks: a challenge for logistics

As 2020 comes to an end, in this final issue of the Odiseo of 2019 I want to focus on networks and the elements that make them up. There are a few main protagonists: the people they serve and, in many cases, those who benefit from them.

The western Mediterranean is an area composed, in the South, of Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya. In the North the Sea houses the countries of Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and Malta. It is home to a total of about 290 million people. It has a young South, where 43% of the population is under 25 years old, compared to the 25% in the northern countries. In the North the situation is reversed, where 33% of the people are 55 years old or older. In the south, this number does not reach 15%. The North hosts about 190 million inhabitants facing close to a hundred million in the South.

The three networks that structure the development of our society

Why are we talking about networks? We live immersed in all kinds of networks, and often we are not very aware of them. Our society and economy are built around three major networks: energy, telecommunications and transport. In Europe, these first appeared in the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, and their function was primarily set to link all regions, contribute to the growth of the internal market and job creation, while simultaneously achieving environmental and sustainable development objectives.

These networks serve us efficiently on a daily basis. For transport to function smoothly, we need energy networks, comprising petrol stations, electricity charging points, natural gas supply points and, as well as the currently emerging, new, less polluting energy sources.

Telecommunications allow us to make digital payments by cards, financial transactions, give us access to the World Wide Web, e-commerce, e-mail, IoT and capture data for the use of intelligent transport management systems, among many others.

In transport services, we have two clear examples: the container, which is already widespread through the global network, and is generally accepted and not questioned by the industry members, and on the opposite side of the coin – the railways, which in today’s climate need to make progress to obtain better standardisation systems. This is particularly true in Spain.

Each network has to follow its own operating rules. For example, when we go to a gas station, we know what kind of fuel is there on offer. In the field of electronic communications, the Internet has taken control of the entire market. We have already mentioned the containers in which 20, 40 or 45 feet have become the norm. On the roads, more and more signalling systems and traffic rules are becoming unified. Finally, in road construction itself, international standards are used to classify the different categories.

Building a network

Networks facilitate progress. There are set architectural designs that have been developed to ensure such progress, and which almost always has positive consequences. A network is built with supporting infrastructures. In communication networks, we have service stations and, in some cases, gas pipelines for the transport of fuels or gas. In the field of transport, we have ports, logistics platforms, roads and road and rail infrastructures.

We can then turn to these infrastructures and provide services that support the network. It may involve the simultaneous incorporation of several networks that are necessary to be able to provide the services that the networks have as their main objectives. Finally, operational regulations and a form of governance needs to exist that will establish rules, standards, access and guidelines, among other things that would facilitates their use and growth.

Once an adequate operational structure is established, the network must develop to consolidate. This requires collaboration and information sharing. Best practices, training, and working with specialised groups are important for the take-off and growth of a network. Once a certain size is attained, the network will be able to contribute with more value before becoming a normality. For example, today, it would be very difficult and costly to replace the Internet or the widespread use of maritime containers.

With a consolidated network, new services, new functionalities, transaction optimizations, new challenges and new components emerge.

Transport Networks

Europe proposed a trans-European network in the same way as Ferrmed[1] proposed a rail network in the Mediterranean. Since then, networks of logistic towing of semi-trailers closely linked to short sea shipping have been proposed. These then help improve freight transport systems and reduce overall costs. When thinking of transport units, these would be our core networks for manufactured products, while for ro-ro transport, RO-RO vessels and ferries are heavily relied on.

The first element that emerges is the topology of the network. We start from the basic elements that make up networks: nodes and vectors, which in turn form different sets according to the product flows and the criteria with which they are constituted. Taking the airport model as a reference, a modern mode of transport that has evolved very quickly and efficiently, we can see that there are networks with point-to-point relationships that have evolved into networks with hub and spoke nodes that have allowed us to respond to the sizes of the aircrafts. And this, in turn, has evolved into hybrid systems. Thus it can be summed up that the network is configured according to the means of transport, structure and volume of traffic.

When looking at the port level in the Mediterranean region, there are clearly defined Hub ports, such as Algeciras and TangerMED. Ports that could be classified as hinterland or Gateways also exist. These include the likes of the Ports of Casablanca, Barcelona, Genoa or Civitavecchia.

Today, we have a network that is used to set priorities and let me say that I believe that it is above all a question of avoiding arbitrary decisions or decisions that can only be justified for reasons that have nothing to do with the efficiency of transport infrastructure and services.

A network seeks to develop a competitive and resource-efficient transport system, as indicated in the Commission’s 2011 White Paper on Transport. A network enables the internal market to function properly and strengthens economic, social and territorial cohesion. It facilitates the mobility of people and goods in a simple, safe and sustainable way. It facilitates accessibility and connectivity in all regions that contribute to economic development and competitiveness. And, instead of focusing only on the European region, it is interest to think about the Western Mediterranean per se and to have a good starting point with some of the important criteria for building the networks that are needed today.

TEN-T Network structure

The Trans-European Transport Network has a two-layers structure, comprising a core network and a comprehensive network covering all Member States.

It is a core network that exists without bottlenecks or discontinuities to facilitate interoperability between the different modes of transport.

It exists with urban nodes, logistics platforms, freight terminals, ports, rail terminals, airports, and with a maritime dimension with the motorways of the sea. The TEN-T is a network that uses innovative technological solutions, which have a vital role to play in transforming transport to make it accessible to all citizens and to create a safer, more sustainable, low-carbon and energy-efficient system.

The core network corridors cover the most important long-distance flows of the core network and aim, in particular, to improve cross-border links within the Union.

These corridors are multimodal and are open to the inclusion of all modes of transport. They shall cross at least two borders and, if possible, include at least three modes of transport, including the motorways of the sea, where appropriate.

In addition, special attention is paid to the measures necessary to ensure the safety of fuels through increased energy efficiency and promote the use of alternative energy sources and propulsion systems, in particular low-carbon or carbon-free; to reduce the exposure of urban areas to the negative effects of transit transport by rail and road; and to help the removal of administrative and technical barriers, in particular to the interoperability of the trans-European transport network and to competition.

WestMED corridors

When thinking about the Western Mediterranean, or the WestMED area, the corridors of particular interest to the Escola are:

  • The Baltic-Adriatic Corridor (Poland-Slovakia-Austria-Italy)
  • The Atlantic Corridor (Portugal-Spain-France)
  • The North Sea – Baltic Sea corridor (Finland – Estonia – Latvia – Lithuania – Poland – Germany – Netherlands – Belgium)
  • The North-Mediterranean Sea Corridor (Ireland-United Kingdom- -Bass-Netherlands-Belgium-Luxembourg-South France, because Brexit became Ireland-Belgium-Netherlands and France).
  • The Mediterranean corridor (Spain-France- North Italy-Slovenia-Croatia-Hungary)
  • Scandinavian-Mediterranean Corridor (Finland-Sweden-Denmark-Germany-Austria-Italy)

The corridor approach can be used as an instrument to coordinate different projects on a transnational basis and synchronise its development, thus maximising the benefits of the network. These projects should contribute to cohesion through better territorial cooperation. In order to ensure effective and efficient implementation of the corridors, each corridor is supported by a European coordinator.

Ports have come to play a fundamental role in structuring the network because they are the main modal exchange points. If we focus on the WestMed area which includes the Atlantic area, the Alboran Sea, the Balearic Sea and the Tyrrhenian Sea, we have 20  main ports in the network. In Portugal Porto, Aveiro, Lisboa and Sines; in Spain Seville, Algeciras, Cartagena, Valencia, Tarragona and Barcelona ; In France Perpignan and Marseille. In Italy, Genoa, La Spezia, Livorno, Civitavecchia – Rome, Naples, Gioia Tauro and Palermo; and in Malta Valetta.

Seaports Infrastructure on the Network

Seaports are the entry and exit points into the land infrastructure of the core network.

Equipment associated with maritime transport infrastructure may include equipment for traffic management and freight transport, for the reduction of negative effects, including negative environmental effects, and for the use of alternative fuels, as well as for dredging, maintenance and security of the port and port access.

Maritime transport infrastructure includes in particular: maritime space, sea lanes, sea ports, including infrastructure necessary for transport operations in the port area, port connections with other modes of the TEN-T network, docks, locks and quays, aids to navigation, port access and canals, jetties, motorways of the sea, related equipment and telematic applications, including electronic maritime services.

Motorways of the Sea

TEN-T policy also focuses on the development of the “Motorways of the Sea” (MoS), for which a European coordinator is responsible for leading the process of its harmonised implementation.

A European maritime space without barriers, which I hope will soon become a Mediterranean space without barriers, includes short sea shipping lanes, ports, associated marine infrastructure, equipment and facilities. It aims to simplify administrative procedures allowing the operation of short sea shipping services between at least two ports, including their hinterland connections.

MoS include seaports on the core network or between a port on the core network and a port in a third country. This means that today, the port of the third country cannot receive direct funding, but it can benefit from the funding received by the whole operation. It also includes port facilities, freight terminals, logistics platforms and freight platforms located outside the port area, but associated with port operations, information and communication technologies (ICT), security and safety, and administrative and customs procedures in at least one State.

Today, MoS operations also include activities aimed to improve environmental performances of the vessels, ports and hinterland operators, which includes shore-based electricity supply that helps ships reduce their emissions, airworthiness activities throughout the year (dredging), alternative re-fuelling facilities, the optimization of processes and procedures, the human element that would include training, and finally the ICT platforms and information systems, including traffic management systems and electronic reporting systems.

Shipping Lines

Shipping lines are the networks’ champions. Existing or new maritime services that form part of a door-to-door logistics chain, help group freight flows into viable, regular, frequent and high quality short sea shipping links.

The MoS network can replace a significant part of the expected increase in road transport.

The Lines are now an essential part of the network configuration. They are the real protagonists of the operations. Almost all of them private, and as such they bet their money.

The evolution of the sector will depend to a large extent on this. Infrastructures are indispensable, but they are far from sufficient. The services and quality offered will determine the future. Opportunities for improving exports depend to a large extent on traders and customs. We hope that together we can help them to develop properly.

 

 

 

Railway connections

The rail part is now one of the main elements of port development. In Barcelona the company VIIA offers rail motorway services. These are new and very powerful concepts. Trucks can now travel on the motorways of the sea to connect with the railways motorways that connect Northern and Central Europe with very short transit time and high-quality services. This represents a new way of understanding intermodality, which is currently undergoing spectacular development. Today, we have significant volumes in the transport of semi-trailers, cars, containers, and refrigerated containers, and in most parts of the continent the rail market in ports continues to grow. This, sadly is not the case in the Spanish rail freight transport market.

Digitization of transport operations

Finally, one of the elements that is of vital importance at this time is the digitization of transport operations. This technological aspect of the networks enables traffic management and information exchanges within and between modes of transport for multimodal transport operations and transport related value-added services, improves safety, environmental performance and simplifies administrative procedures.

The digital services should facilitate a seamless connection between the core network infrastructures and regional and local transport infrastructure. An important player is the Port Community System.  In Barcelona we have Portic and in Morocco we have PortNET. They will play a fundamental role in the digitization of operations in their respective areas.

The digitization of transport operations is linked to a topical subject in Europe (but one that is increasingly catching on in Morocco, Tunis and Algeria on the other side of the Mediterranean): one of the National Single Windows.  I believe that they represent an unique opportunity as customs can take advantage of all the information they receive. If a framework of trust between the public administration of all this countries is possible, then the increase in the speed of operations will be inevitable. I hope they can give us joy in the near future.

The money factor

And I’ll finish with the money. Everything that has been proposed must be funded. Europe has embarked on a path where it relies heavily on sophisticated financing models. These include PPP, participation with bonds, bank financing, subsidies, etc.

One of the sources that provides clarity on this subject in Europe is the information from the European Parliament, which is working on the “Multiannual Financial Framework – LEGISLATIVE TRAIN 11.2019” programme, set to cover the period between 2021 to 2027.

This programme will replace the CEF and aims to develop transport, energy and digital infrastructure within the framework of the trans-European networks. With very significant investment figures, since it is 42.3 billion euros, compared to 23.2 billion for the 2014-2020 period of the EFC. It sets out certain priorities that will have to be analysed: decarbonization, digitization, transition to clean energy and improve digital connectivity.

Conclusions

Finally, we circle back to the beginning, to the transport networks: Trans-European, Trans-Maghreb, Trans-African or international. They will all fight to compete and, in some cases, to cooperate and develop.

Today, we know that the China Belt and the Silk Road initiative could complete a logistics chain from Japan to Russia to Central and Northern Europe. This reconfigures the world again, with transit times of 19 days between Japan and Europe. We are live in exciting times.

I would like to leave you a message, summarizing what was said before:

Networks are a fundamental element for the development of advanced societies; A network is solid if it is easy to use.

Logistics is a networking factor which can help us improve the countries in which we live in.

Let’s do it!

Eduard Rodés

Director

Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport

 

[1] http://www.ferrmed.com/sites/default/files/2019-04/FERRMED%20GLOBAL%20STUDY%20BOOK.pdf

Innovative perspectives for training of the new generation in the Blue Economy

In 2019 the Escola’s team has decided to take it upon themselves to carry out a research study on the current state of experiential training offers in the areas in which the Escola is active. This study was borne out of the recognised need to understand the exponential changes that are happening in the world of transport in light of the fourth industrial revolution. This is particularly true when dealing with professions in the Blue Economy, which hosts the majority of the global international trade. The Escola’s team hoped to conclude that there is a rapidly growing need to adapt training programmes of professionals hoping to enter the maritime world, to help counter this reality and thus better prepare the individuals for the industries.

The resulting study showed that when synergies are created in a network of training centres and companies in the sector within a country or between different countries, the result is rapid learning and the creation of innovative training programmes, which better prepare the professionals for the jobs of the future. Using data data collected from training centres and companies that frequently collaborate in the Escola’s courses, the team concluded that the courses offered by the Escola have a format that is both innovative and experiential in nature, and thus by internationalising and mixing the groups, the training is more successful and current to the needs of the market. It is important to develop tools and course models for training centres and companies to follow, and to ensure that more students have access to them. The final paper can be downloaded from the Escola’s website.

At the end of November, the Escola’s team then travelled to Portugal to present the findings at the first annual World of Shipping International Conference on Maritime Affairs, which took place in Carcavelos between the 21st and the 22nd of November. During the conference topics such as improved waterborne transport concepts, energy efficiency and emission control in waterborne transport concepts, optimisation of transport infrastructure including terminal, the port of the future, the autonomous and unmanned vessels, complex and value – added specialised vessels, and digitalisation were covered in other studies presented by scientists, researchers and industry professionals from around the world. The conference, which had its pilot event this year, aims to establish itself as a meeting point of reference bringing together the industry, leading academic scientists, researchers and research scholars to exchange and share their experiences and research results on all aspects of maritime transport to promote a better future for the industry.

Check out the Escola’s paper here: https://escolaeuropea.eu/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/WofS_061_Full_Paper_FINAL.pdf.

Interested to know more? You can contact the article authors to enquire about the study itself or any future research planned.

MASS Control Centre

Blue Innovation – Autonomous shipping – the maritime industry of the future?

Blue Innovation – Autonomous shipping – the maritime industry of the future?

One of the more controversial topics in shipping is the emergence of autonomous vessels. The feasibility of these new arrivals to the maritime field is today still quite controversial among the majority of industry experts. Nevertheless, what is certain is that, despite the uncertainty and the many sceptics, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) does not disregard these new technological alternative initiatives and continues the debate and establish a methodology for conducting trials and develop a road map to consider the projects and investments of several leading companies of the sector.

The legal framework

The viability of applying these technologies is subject to legal limitations of the sector. Since 2018 the IMO has taken the first steps to address the issue of autonomous vessels, taking into account the interests of the industry in MASS (Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships). Initially the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) approved a framework for a regulatory scope exercise, in which a work plan and preliminary steps of autonomy have been established to create a methodology that can regulate the insertion of the operability of this activity.

Alongside the discussion of the feasibility of these operations, which can be very extensive, in this blog of Blue Innovation we want to comment on the technological advances that are currently under way and consider the initiatives of different companies that are beginning to develop these technologies.

Technological framework

When thinking about autonomous shipping operations, companies and governments alike need to take in account various considerations before implementing the technologies. Land based control centres, satellites capable of tracking the positions and progress of these vessels, sensor systems, collision prevention technologies, security concerns and environmental protections are only some that would need to be addressed before maritime autonomy becomes viable. It would also be unwise not to take into consideration the “twin” of MASS – autonomous mooring systems which require sensors and automated systems not only for vessel operations but also for shorter operations in the ports of call.

What follows is a brief summary of some of the leading projects currently in development that aim to tackle these and other issues, and thus pave the way towards shipping of the future:

  • 2016: the creation of One Sea, a global conglomerate of maritime partners that joined together to lead research co-creation of high-profile ecosystems with a primary aim to create an operating autonomous maritime ecosystem by 2025. Partners as Wärtsilä, ABB, Inmarsat, Ericson, Monohakobi T.I., Royal Institution of Naval Architects (RINA), Shipbroakers Finland and others are working together to combine top research to “create an environment suitable for autonomous ships by 2025”.

https://www.oneseaecosystem.net/about/

 

  • May 2017: Yara company joined DNV, Shipyards Vard and Kongsberg to build MV Yara Birkeland, an 80 mts, 120 TEUs and max 10kns vessel that aims to cover a logistic need of the Yara Group and seeks to eliminate 40,000 annual truck trips by road by substituting them with maritime routes of this new vessel. In addition to being autonomous, the vessel also follows a zero-emission plan with azimuthal electric engines and a closed ballast system, equipped with sensor technology, control algorithms, communication data and connectivity that will be interlinked with the operations of its automated terminal. The idea is to start manned operations in 2020 and then, with the help of Kongsberg’s technology, gradually move to an unmanned vessel by 2022. An automated mooring system is under development by the MacGregor group and, to provide additional support to terminal operations, the Kalmar group is working on the incorporation of Automated Crane Technology (AutoRMG) that will complement the integration of zero-emission operations during the vessel’s operations in port.

https://www.yara.com/knowledge-grows/game-changer-for-the-environment/

 

 

Source: http://hugin.info/134793/R/2210941/860932.jpg

 

  • January 2018: Rolls-Royce opened the first Research & Development Centre for Autonomous Vessels. This materialized the digitization of the maritime sector with a focus on autonomous navigation and the use of artificial intelligence for the operations of unmanned ships.

https://www.rolls-royce.com/media/press-releases/2018/25-01-2018-rr-opens-autonomous-ship-research-and-development-centre-in-finland.aspx

 

  • April 2018: Wilhelmsen and Kongsberg joined forces to create the first company dedicated to the development of autonomous ship operations. The company Massterly seeks to establish infrastructures and design support services for the operations of autonomous vessels and lead the land-based control centres that will make monitoring of the operations of the vessels at sea and in ports possible. Massterly was created in Norway to support the Yara project and has Kongsberg’s experience in the technology sector and Wilhelmsen’s experience in maritime services and logistics behind it.

https://www.wilhelmsen.com/media-news-and-events/press-releases/2018/wilhelmsen-and-kongsberg-establish-worlds-first-autonomous-shipping-company/

 

  • August 2018: DNV published a Paper focused on Remote-Controlled and Autonomous Vessels in which it summarised the current situation, the operational changes in terms of navigation and other functions, regulations and motivations for implementation, and the ethical and social implications of such technologies.

https://www.dnvgl.com/maritime/publications/remote-controlled-autonomous-ships-paper-download.html

 

  • In December 2018: Finferries and Rolls-Royce publicly exposed the operational tests of the 53.8m Falco ro-ro ferry, which is adapted with sensors interconnected with artificial intelligence that contain anti-collision technologies and an autodocking system which is monitored from a ground control centre 50km from the city of Turku.

https://www.finferries.fi/en/news/press-releases/finferries-falco-worlds-first-fully-autonomous-ferry.html

 

Source: https://www.vesselfinder.com/news/14008-Rolls-Royce-and-Finferries-demonstrate-worlds-first-Fully-Autonomous-Ferry

  • December 2018: That same month, Samskip led an initiative called “Seashuttle” of an autonomous Short Sea Shipping vessel, propelled with hydrogen through the use of electrolysis, with the goal of creating more sustainable shipping alternatives. The operations route aims to cover the regular line between Poland and Norway and is supplied in maritime technologies by Kongsberg Maritime; by Hyon in the implementation of hydrogen technologies; and by Massterly in terms of operational MASS.

http://www.samskipmultimodal.com/news/press-release-1

 

The difficult steps in establishing legal precedents and frameworks to ensure the safe and efficient operations of MASS still lie ahead of us. Similarly, cyber security is still a broad field that requires detailed and extensive investigations before safe passage at sea for MASS vessels are possible. The road ahead is long and arduous, but the companies that have joined these projects have taken the first steps towards developing the technologies that will make suitable adaptations possible and thus make unmanned vessels a reality.

 

Written by:

  • Vanessa Bexiga, Operations Manager (Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport)

Useful Links

Port operations in a globalised society

In an era of a globalised supply chain, the role of the port has evolved from its traditional cargo handling and storage functions to being an integral part of the global supply chain. With the growing demand for integrated logistics services and the intensification of port competition, a port must collaborate and cooperate with its supply chain partners to provide value-added services to its customers and, by extension, to its entire regional area of influence.

Today, instead of companies competing with each other, the logistics chains engage in more active competition. Greater efficiency of their operations gives them advantages over their rivals and positions them higher above other companies in the market. In order to identify all the items that make up the most efficient logistics chains, it is necessary to analyse and combine systems, processes, people, teams and strategies in order to find the most profitable and efficient solutions for all parties involved. Economies with efficient logistic solutions can easily connect companies in their territories with national and international markets through reliable supply chains, while countries with inefficient logistics face high costs, both in terms of time and money, in international trade and global supply chains, leaving their companies at great disadvantages.

On an international level, the position of the economies in the logistics sector can be evaluated through the World Bank’s Logistic Performance Index – a tool comprising different KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that reflect the perceptions of logistics of a country based on the efficiencies of processes of customs clearance, the quality of available commercial and transport infrastructures, the ease of arranging shipments at competitive prices, the quality of logistics services, the ability to track and trace shipments, and the frequency with which shipments arrive at the consignees on time. From this perspective, ports play an essential role, which can only be optimised when all actors and agents collaborate and interact efficiently. We are not only talking about the actions of port authorities; the direct and active participation of shipowners, exporters, importers, shippers, customs agencies, consignment agents, freight forwarders, stevedoring companies, land and multimodal carriers, port and terminal concessionaires, customs authorities, health services, among others is crucial.

Nowadays, the role of a port is not only limited to its port or technological infrastructures, but also to its role as a productive and efficient logistic platform thanks to the integration of all processes and the information capabilities of its actors. In this way, an efficient port becomes an engine for the economy.

This coordination is possible when all the agents of the port community, as well as the rest of the members of the logistics chain, are aware of the roles and responsibilities of each of their interlocutors. This allows the gear between all of them to be much more fluid and efficient. In this sense, the knowledge and training on “what happens in a port” help to generate synergies and process improvements among the participants of the operations, both maritime and terrestrial, and to pave the way for integration, presenting the client as a single entity: the port.

Specialised training in port operations will help increase the efficiency and safety of operations. Ensuring that all actors in the logistics chain are informed of and understand the working procedures will make it easier to find equilibrium between the different actors in order to provide better operation times and greatly reduce operational costs.

As such, the Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport has brought together the main actors that make up and partake in port operations to offer specialised training, with the goal of contributing to the improvement of the efficiency of ports and logistics operations on a national scale. This course is part of the Summer School of the Escola, which will take place from 1 to 12 July, and is divided into two scenarios of port operations: vessel operations and goods operations. During the two weeks, participants will be able to get to know all the actors involved in port operations in order to get a panoramic and integrated view of what happens during the passage of goods through a port.

You can find out more about the upcoming course by exploring the course programmes (https://www.escolaeuropea.eu/calendar/port-operations-for-vessels/

 and https://www.escolaeuropea.eu/calendar/summer-school-port-operations-for-goods/

) , or by writing to the Escola (info@escolaeuropea.eu).

A box management ecosystem to solve the empty container dilemma

We need to re-oriente our thinking towards container management, argues Nicholas Press from CEC Systems.

Visibility is a high priority for shippers and carriers alike. Whether it is rate comparison, booking freight, tracking or monitoring a temperature-sensitive container, visibility is a necessity in today’s market. The growing number of technology providers providing visibility such as Traxens, Savi and EyeSeal and the evolution of interoperability of solutions improvements. The goal in much of these improvements is to provide shippers with more accurate, up-to-date location data and better analytics about where and why cargo bottlenecks occur.

While improving visibility is important, for the industry to achieve sustained improvements it needs to recognize that there are many inputs and relationships that surround the movement of containers which are integral to the successful movement of goods globally. There is a bigger picture that is often overlooked, however. That bigger picture is not solely focused on container transaction but rather, a container ecosystem that encompasses the entire lifecycle of containers and tracking devices – from research & development of hardware, the manufacturing process, ownership, maintenance, loading, booking, and tracking, final delivery, the repositioning and storage of the empty containers and, ultimately, the recycling of the containers.

If the industry is going to generate real efficiencies, there must be a move away from siloed management of containers towards a holistic approach.

Container management must be an ongoing evolution that brings four key areas of focus into an ecosystem. Effective management relies on more than just box optimization, it requires the physical, digital, analytics and services to be considered as equal parts of an overall solution. These four areas form a container ecosystem that when viewed and managed together, offer a comprehensive and integrated solution for the efficient use of containers.

Proper management of empty containers, for example, warrants extra attention as empty containers are one of the most significant areas of lost profit. The four areas (physical, digital, analytics, and services) interconnect and as you look to optimize and create new efficiencies in one area, you must also seek the advancement of the other three. Without a level of concurrent progress, the industry is potentially advancing without the strong foundation required to achieve real efficiencies. For example, as we at CEC Systems continue to evolve the collapsible container design, we will continue to develop and evolve the other areas in unison.

Begin with the physical

Let’s start with the design of the container. The global shipping and logistics industry is losing over $30bn annually on storing, handling and distributing empty containers but the general design of the box has not really evolved over the past 40 years. There is a good reason for this as there needs to be an international standard that allows freight to move across borders, but that doesn’t make it optimal in achieving long-term sustainability.

Instead of waiting for international standards to catch up with changing shipping needs, CEC Systems has developed COLLAPSECON – the world’s first semi-automated Collapsible-Economic-Container that enables four empty units to be collapsed and combined to form a single container, thus significantly reducing the cost of storing, handling and distributing empty containers. By utilising containers that collapse and combine, we are able to achieve a greater level of asset utilisation and availability across the global fleet. The result of this is a reduction in waste, bottlenecks, and congestion throughout the global network and a contribution towards a sustainable industry.

Although the container forms the physical part of the empty container issue it would be a mistake to focus only on this part as it does not take into account the other three container management areas. However, by re-orienting our thinking and making the container itself part of the container management ecosystem alongside tracking, analytics, and services, the combined effect is an improvement in operational efficiency and provisions a better return on investment and reduced environmental impact when compared to standard containers.

Add the digital

While the container itself as a physical item is the primary concern, we cannot proceed as an industry from shying away from the benefits digitalization brings. It is all very well and good that we seek to evolve the box itself, but we must in parallel be seeking to make containers as smart as possible.

As part of the ecosystem, the industry should be aiming to provide a new level of efficiency to tracking and optimizing container movements. If the industry desires real efficiencies, technology should allow a participant to monitor not only the container but the pallet, the box, the packet as well as have the ability to drill down to the level of detail to the individual product inside. Tracking should provide real-time and actionable information and through the use of blockchain, ensure the security and accuracy of data throughout the value chain. Trading partners, as well as service providers, will gain better visibility in their supply chains and understand their true costs of operation. This, in turn, can allow them to remove recurring issues from their network.

Achieving improved container management through the use of digital technologies and tracking may sound like a monumental challenge and very expensive, but in today’s digital age, the cost of technology continues to decline and many solutions exist to provide the level of visibility needed within the ecosystem parameters for improved container management.

Analysis and insights

A growing number of technologies such as sensors are not only tracking container location but also temperature, humidity levels and even the number of bumps along the route. In addition, sensors are sending information to improve the accuracy of data that may not have been caught or able to be managed through manual means.

However, big data is useless unless you can pull “actionable” data out of it. For an ecosystem to work a fundamental breakdown of data and information silos across the network is necessary. The knowledge and data provided by these devices and sensors need to be captured, securely stored in the blockchain and transformed into insights. It is not about generating more data, it is about generating knowledge and understanding to support better decision making.

Members of the ecosystem should be able to analyse their networks at both the macro and micro levels to create transparency, support continuous improvement, and create value for the stakeholders with their investments.

The result being, better analysis, actionable insights, accountability, and greater efficiencies. Not just for the operator or shipper, but for the industry as a whole.

Services to support the ecosystem

Adding to the physical, digital and analytics aspects, in terms of services, we can break this into three different components. There is the maintenance of existing assets, the continuous development of underlying technologies and the support services to enable functionality and operations. These services can include the management of containers, research & development, inspection, repair, requisite training and in the case of collapsible containers, collapsing as a service.

This is incredibly important to understand, as the ecosystem is about more than just a physical container and digital technologies. It’s about ensuring containers and other hardware such as tracking devices and underlying technologies are treated as assets, not commodities. If consideration is not provided then assets become useless before the end of their potential life span. Beyond lost revenue and poor service, the result is the need to build more units at additional financial and environmental costs.

We at CEC Systems envision these supporting services for the ecosystem that is similar to how aircraft are maintained… just far less complicated and life critical. As the fleet owner, we will look to develop our own maintenance services over time but we also will rely on partners in regions to ensure the ecosystem is maintained and users see the greatest benefit.

Not only do these services extend to a deeper level of customer service (satisfaction) but they also prolong the life and utilization of the hardware across the ecosystem, making them a more profitable investment for shippers and carriers alike.

How the ecosystem naturally begets sustainability

In the container management ecosystem, there needs to be greater attention paid not just to what happens when a container is built and used for the movement of goods, but throughout the containers entire life cycle. In particular, as we discussed it above, there needs to be a move away from market dumping/asset write off towards treating containers, other hardware, and software as important assets like ships and ports. In case of containers, for example, that means one needs to consider how containers are made, where materials are sourced from, what materials are used, what quality assurance processes are considered, how they are repaired, how they are used and in the end, how they are properly disposed of.

While they may not be able to be used on the seas, they can be modified for other purposes such as emergency accommodation to support disaster relief or short-term accommodation for those without a home (and in some cases, entire Apartment Communities built out of old containers). There are plenty of options for the faithful box but as part of the physical area of the container management ecosystem, we will end up with thousands of containers spread throughout the world. Where possible, recycling of these assets should be placed as a top priority.

In conclusion

Creating and supporting a container ecosystem creates a holistic approach to container shipping in a way that hasn’t been considered before. In terms of organizational health, the ability to collapse and store four containers in the space of one will go a long way towards saving companies money. By investing in the life cycle of these containers, fewer resources will be poured into making new ones which will also protect both the environment and the profit margin. The hardware and software that goes into managing containers will provide a new level of visibility throughout the supply chain increasing both agility and efficiency. The service offering created through this arrangement not only helps to support the container ecosystem but will also serve to deepen and, subsequently, strengthen the working relationships between collaborating partners.

By re-orienting our thinking towards a container management ecosystem consisting of the physical, tracking, analytics, and services, the combined effect will be a long-term improvement in operational efficiency, better return on investment and reduced environmental impact.

Source: Splash 247